A Quick Guide on How to Start A Mobile Auto Detailing Business, Price Guide and Equipment Needs

Let’s face it. Not a lot of people have the time or the patience to do their own car detailing. Some wouldn’t even want to go out to auto shops. This is where you come in! Starting your own mobile detailing service will help all those people out! Whether you’re an auto enthusiast or just an average car owner, getting the perfect finish for your ride will leave you immensely satisfied! To do that, you need to have it detailed.

Car detailing is an extensive, top to bottom cleaning of your vehicle including its interior and exterior. You can get the most remarkable, reflective appearance you want through a thorough wash and wax routine that will leave your paint super glossy.

Of course, detailing services aren’t just limited to automobiles. You can also ask for RV detailing and boat detailing. Like many services, detailing can be done on your own (and you’re very much welcome to try it out!).


Put up your own mobile auto detailing business today!

Car detailing services entail a lot of effort since it’s an exhaustive process. Through mobile detailing, you can bring this automotive amenity to many more car owners in the comfort and convenience of their homes. With all the amazing benefits they can get from your service, customers will surely appreciate the end result, their car looking like a Concours masterpiece!

But super service isn’t the only thing you need to work on if you want to give everyone an amazing car detailing experience. Read on to know more about starting your own mobile detailing business.

So, in this article, we’ll explore:


How to Start a Mobile Auto Detailing Business?


When starting a detailing service, there are numerous things you need to plan out like what to include in your detailing packages or how much to charge a customer. But before you get into those, you must finish a few necessary steps. For a summarized version, here are 3 steps below but if you want a more in-depth tutorial, head on over to Chron.

Get a License

The first thing you need to do is to get a mobile detailing business license. There is no set duration for the application process since it varies from place to place. So, if you want to set up shop immediately, the sooner you start your application, the better.

To do this, you must visit the city government where you plan to do your business. Get the necessary requirements you may need to fulfill and pay the application fees. One of these requirements is the name of your business which will be filed in the record. So, make sure you have one ready! Again, the amount you need to pay may vary depending on your location.

Aside from a business license, you may also need additional permits to operate more efficiently and successfully. You must remember to get a sales permit. If you’re planning on selling car tools and supplies aside from the actual service, now is the time to ask for additional requirements you might have to submit.

Lastly, make sure that you are well covered by insurance. Get a liability business insurance to protect yourself from property damage. It’s a good idea to get employer’s liability insurance, as well, to protect you from injuries that may occur during work.

Buy a Service Vehicle

Having a service vehicle is vital, especially since you’re bringing your services to different locations. Remember that you need to lug along all of the necessary tools and supplies you’ll need plus any employee that has to do the work.

You can choose to make a car you already own as your service vehicle but make sure that it looks great. Since your service is about maintaining the amazing appearance of people’s rides, your ride must also look amazing.

As you become more successful, you might hire more employees and in turn, might need more vehicles.

Stock Up on Supplies

You can’t operate your mobile detailing service without the needed equipment. From the heavy machinery to the simplest products like car wax, make sure that you’re always well stocked. How much you need will highly depend on the type of cars you’ll be servicing and the types of services you’ll be willing to give.


Auto Detailing Price Guide


The next thing you want to take care of is pricing your detail packages. You would want to give your customers a wide range of options to choose from as some of them might not need what others do.

A great way to divide packages is to do exterior detailing only, interior detailing only, and full detailing. Exterior detailing will be all about paint correction, so that’s mainly car washing and buffing on polish and wax.

As a bonus, include pressure washing in your package. Interior detailing, on the other hand, will handle cleaning the dashboard, seats, and rugs inside while a full detailing package is a combination of both.

You can also make beneficial add-ons like engine detailing since not everyone wants that service but it’s still great to have. A loyalty rewards system is also a great strategy to use so that more customers will come back regularly to you.

Offering an approachable and friendly service will also make clients relate to you more and want to work with you again.

Setting the price

Mobile auto detailing prices will differ from place to place since operational costs would also vary. When pricing your service, think of all the expenses you’ll be needing like buying supplies and gasoline.

It’s also a great idea to check out your competitor’s prices to know where you should start.

For quick reference purposes, three states have been chosen (California, Arizona, and Texas) and prices are taken from some of the more well-known auto shops in those areas.

Feel free to compare the prices below and take some inspiration in creating your own.

Car Wash

Exterior Wash – Basic
California: $29.99
Arizona: $14.99
Texas: $20.00

Premium Wash
California: $57.99
Arizona: $49.99
Texas: $40.00


Exterior Detailing

Hand Wax
California: $49.99
Arizona: $74.99
Texas: $49.99

Polish & Wax
California: $149.99
Arizona: $129.99
Texas: $79.99


Interior Detailing

Carpet & Upholstery
California: $89.99
Arizona: $59.99/each
Texas: $45.00+

Leather Treatment
California: $49.99
Arizona: $59.99
Texas: $45.00+

Complete Interior Detail
California: $159.99
Arizona: $139.99
Texas: $99.00+
Full Detailing

Complete Detail Package
California: $279.99
Arizona: $99.00+
Texas: $179.99


Other Detailing

Engine Detailing
California: –
Arizona: –
Texas: $45.00+

Headlight Restoration
California: $59.99
Arizona: $55.00
Texas: –


Mobile Detailing Equipment


Reflections from your shiny surface can easily be achieved through proper automotive detailing but you must use only the best professional auto detailing kits to make this happen. You don’t need to worry about these too much as they are widely available in many hardware stores.

You just need to visit one and pick the equipment that would best suit you. If you’re not feeling up to the journey, you can always do your equipment shopping in the comfort of your home through online stores. You can check out specialty sites like Autogeek for some inspiration.

Basic Equipment

Since you will be doing this professionally, you will need an array of heavy equipment. Pressure washers are a great machine to have since they do a better and safer job of cleaning a car as a first step. Partner this up with a good brand of car shampoo, microfiber pad, and a foam gun for better performance.


For Detailing and Interior Works

For more exterior work, you might want to invest in a good orbital polisher to remove minor to medium scratches; or a rotary buffer for more stubborn scrapes. For the interior, a handy tool to have is vapor steamers since they’re great at cleaning upholstery like leather and vinyl.


Optional Equipment

Remember to get the basics like car polish and wax, buffing compound or clay bars, soft foam pads, car shampoo, shampoo buckets, and a lot of microfiber towels as well. It’s also good to invest in miscellaneous equipment like detailing trailers, shade canopies, and generators.

Like all business endeavors, you will need to give it a whole lot of effort to succeed. But by following these tips, you can at least start out without any problems. Here’s a short Youtube video from ZenTV you can watch if you need a little more motivation for your new business. Good luck and here’s to your successful mobile auto detailing business!

  • Updated October 29, 2018
James Evans

As a passionate outdoorsman and an automobile enthusiast, James spent most of his time in his garage tinkering with cars and bikes. During his free time, he loves to hike and blog about the things that he has done to keep his ride in tip-top condition.

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